Social Media: An Opportunity for Psychiatrists
By Holly Peek, MD, MPH; July 09, 2014; http://www.psychiatrictimes.com
DIGITAL MEDIA IN PSYCHIATRY
Psychiatry residents and early-career psychiatrists were among the first to engage in
social media when it's in their college dorm rooms. Facebook began in 2004 as an
interactive directory for individuals, to talk about photographs and basic information. Ten
years later, your website now boasts over a billion users worldwide and include anyone 13
years or older in addition to businesses, organizations, celebrities, and political
figures. Although Facebook was the first popular Web site available, social media marketing
now encompasses various forms of media with popular sites for example YouTube, Twitter,
Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
Along while using exploding popularity of social media marketing over the past decade came
the potential pitfalls for a lot of young adults entering graduate schools in addition to
their early careers. Personal pictures, posts, and data have become easily available on the
Internet, prompting schools, training directors, and employers to screen applicants by
trying to find them online before offering interviews or a job. Furthermore, it is usually
even more concerning that someone may stumble across facts about personal drinkng venues.
Unfortunately, as the first generation of social media users have entered their early
careers, a feeling of fear has swept within the online communication scene, with lots of of
these users disengaging altogether.
However, rather than viewing social media marketing as a potential catalyst for any career
downfall, it can be an extremely worthwhile career chance of psychiatrists. The current
generation of residents and early-career psychiatrists have essentially been engaged in
social media marketing for longer than any other generation. This means they're more likely
to know how to use the technology and they are more used to readily sharing their thoughts
and ideas through this very public platform. Re-creating an online presence from personal
to professional has many perks.
Engaging in social websites as a psychiatrist is essential because our patients spend a
significant quantity of their time online, which is where they receive their information.
The average Internet user inside the US spends 32 hours a month online, with 22% of now
spent on social media marketing sites. Furthermore, smartphone users average 24 minutes per
day using online community apps.1 While spending this time around on the Internet, users
are doing a lot more than casually socializing using their peers. In fact, in accordance
with the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 72% of adult online users
have searched the Internet for health-related information in the past year. A report by
PricewaterhouseCoopers has additionally shown that one-third of social media marketing
consumers are making use of it for health-related issues. This includes watching online
videos, reading stories on a Web site or blog, registering with receive alerts and e-mails,
or joining a health-related group on a social networking site.
More than traditional Web sites, social media has changed the landscape of how
psychiatrists can make use of the Internet. It has unlocked doors for open conversations
among physicians, patients, and the general public. We have the ability to disseminate
knowledge of evidence-based strategies, provide context to mental health stories in the
media, and dispel myths. There are certainly those who are putting false, misleading, and
potentially harmful facts about the Internet. Therefore we, as mental health professionals,
should use social networking in a beneficial way by sharing our expertise and knowledge
inside the field.
Arguably, there's more stigma associated with psychiatric disorders than with some other
health problems; this affects patients’ mental health outcomes and, on the larger scale,
funding and resources accessible to us and our patients. Social media is our opportunity to
give voice for the fight against stigma by educating the population about mental health.
No discussion about social media is complete without speaking about maintaining
professionalism online. Because social media use for physicians is really a relatively new
and evolving phenomenon, professional organizations such as the AMA are now creating
guidelines for appropriate use. It is essential for almost any physician using social media
marketing to review these guidelines: Opinion 9.124—Professionalism inside Use of Social
Media. By following them, any trepidation about entering the social media scene may be
Instead of avoiding social media marketing altogether, I encourage mental medical
researchers to embrace this new and exponentially growing mode of communication. It is
essential we align ourselves while using public and our patients both to disseminate
accurate information and to teach. Social media permits us to have this public voice as
part of your before. Psychiatry residents and early-career psychiatrists certainly come
with an advantage within this arena because many have been using social websites for the
past decade. However, digital media is not simply for younger psychiatrists; experts of all
ages have become embracing the social networking world. Learning how to use digital tools
to teach patients, engage the public, and ultimately advocate for mental health is often a
skill worth preparing our professional repertoire.